Penny Bryant, our host for this evening's tasting.

Penny Bryant, our host for this evening's tasting.

It’s that time of year, y’all. Dark beers abound, and I am loving it! I love roasty, chocolaty, warm, dark beers, especially if they have coffee in them.

Epic Brewing Co. makes the wonderful coffee stout, Big Bad Baptist. Every batch is slightly different depending on which coffee beans the brewery uses, and each is always top-notch. This is my go-to coffee stout for recommendations and for my own fridge.

We recently compared some Big Bad Baptist variations, which you can find wherever you get your awesome craft brews. See our tasting notes below, and happy winter sipping.

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Big Bad Baptist (Release 73)

12.6% ABV

This beer is dangerous. It doesn’t taste like it’s 12-plus percent alcohol, and it’s strong, satisfying coffee flavor makes one want to guzzle. Our group consisted of dark-beer lovers, beer fans who don’t know much about coffee stouts, and beer noobs, and we all agreed that this is a wonderful beer.

This imperial stout with cocoa nibs and dark-roasted coffee beans is blended with some of the same recipe that has been barrel aged, which adds dimension to the flavor. The coffee really shines through without being bitter, and the chocolate flavor, common to stouts, really fills in the flavor profile between the coffee and wood notes. Overall, this beer is aces and deserves a place in your fridge. And lucky for us, it's pretty easy to find around town.

Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist (Release 1)

12.3% ABV

This brew is a boozy punch in the face. It's whiskey barrel-aged, and it shows. The wood notes are much more prominent, while the coffee takes a backseat (though the coffee did peek out more as the brew warmed up).

This beer was our least favorite of the three we tried, but through no fault of the beer. Our group wasn’t big on the woody/barrel notes, but those who were loved it. The whiskey really comes through on this beer, so if that’s your jam, this might be your favorite version of BBB. This is a limited release, so good luck hunting it down.

Beer buzz: This hoppy holiday ale is lighter on the Christmas spices

Big Bad Baptista (Release 1)

11.7% ABV

According to Epic's website, "Big Bad Baptista is inspired by traditional Mexican coffee, Café de Olla, which is served with cinnamon and piloncillo, an unrefined sugar. The cinnamon adds another layer of complexity and accentuates the earthy character of Mexican Coffee." It's a brand-new and, dare I say, sensational brew.

“Literally like drinking chocolate,” said Chase York, one of our new-to-craft tasters.

The vanilla accentuates the roasted coffee notes, and the cinnamon with the cocao nibs gives the impression of hot chocolate -- a very boozy version. The aroma peters off as it warmed up, but the vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate combo of flavors stays on point. There’s less coffee in this brew or, more accurately, there are more flavors going on, so the coffee is less predominate. This is another limited release, so you might have to hunt for it, but you'll likely see it advertised when it's in.

There was a tie for favorite between the original (Release 73) and Big Bad Baptista. You’ll have to try all three together for yourself to make up your mind.

Booze News Insider Mae Rock is a craft beer enthusiast, and local brewery groupie.

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